Life continues with its ebb and flow here at Free Farm Animal Home where it is becoming increasingly apparent that nothing is FREE.
Although I have more or less given up on finding a deserving family who will in fact care for the animals here, applicants continue to pour in through the original long delisted kajiji ad. In fact, this weekend a determined family from Toronto, desperate to escape from what they view as the “rat race” are coming to roll up their sleeves, rent a room in the local motel and try their hand for three days at what they perceive will be an environment for them. We shall see. Nothing like jumping right into the boiling pot during the daunting winter months.Two weeks ago another city family took the plunge, begging me for the chance, convincing me they could last the two days I proposed. When their car pulled up my driveway and came to a screeching halt, the youthful wife bounced out of the car and the older retired husband, a clone of Mike Duffy, slumbered out behind her reminding me of a marshmallow rolling off of a table in slow motion.I rather liked him as, many moons ago while on a national tour promoting a book I wrote, I was a guest on the television show,”Mike Duffy Report” with CTV news. Anyway, this family which rekindled a past life of mine lasted all of three and a half hours before telling me, evidently out of breath, “This is not for us.” (POSTSCRIPT A WEEK LATER: The determined family who came after the Duffy lookalike, packed it in after a day professing they were “overwhelmed” and understandably so coming from an urban environment.)
Meanwhile, a lot of email continues to rather plague me with soul-searching questions, largely out of curiosity.
Is it not insanity, craziness to assemble so many animals that cost endless physical, emotional and financial resources, enough to undo any “normal” person?
I must confess that by the definition of our English language that yes, I am crazy, insane. I am not “normal” as it were. Normal would be to be seen as looking after oneself, being prudent in a financial sense and basically being reasonable.
Let’s face it, the world, at least to me, is a very interesting place in that we have different viewpoints, different lifestyles and differences in general. Even different ways of thinking. Some life stories inspire us to be better people; some point to a lesson of avoiding a self- destructive path.
As for myself, I share some rather personal details here in the hopes of answering some questions that keep bombarding my email.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family (who doesn’t nowadays, eh?) I was constantly being abandoned and thrust into the care of various children’s aids societies in Quebec under that notorious rule of Maurice Duplessis. I was never able to answer or even address the crucial question, Who Am I? Nor was I able to probe another life sustaining thought, Where Do I belong? As such, the answers to these questions were, I am NOBODY. And, I don’t belong anywhere.I was in fact a mere “less than…” marginalized individual with whom the authorities during my elementary school years proposed a lobotomy to rectify my demeanour. Fortunately, my single often unemployed mother did not have the funds to pay for this procedure. We were not exactly cut of the same financial cloth of America’s Lancelot clan, the Kennedy’s who were in fact able to take this expensive avenue with one of their children.
Now, age 63, I look back at a fascinating, colourful and engaging life ride which saw me move from rags to riches and back down where I am at present, financially speaking that is, in the poor house, just like most of the planet (sans the rich).
I have since been able to determine who I am. I’m a person with a big heart when it comes to caring about anything,including people, and especially animals. And, as far as belonging, well, that’s an ongoing challenge. As far as my rather lacking social skills are concerned I developed a compensating bad habit of becoming a control freak, alienating those who did not understand me.
Here is another mystery explained. For me, with the kind of background experience I have unwittingly survived, I find that it is rather useless to merely have COMPASSION for causes, like animal welfare to take an example. There is the equally vital component of ENGAGEMENT that must come with the compassion. To dig deeper into my own personal experience, I remember how my continuously abandoning mother allowed me, for a brief time, to own a cat which I named “Fuzzy” but one day, she unceremoniously tossed it outside when I was told we were leaving Montreal, actually running away to Toronto under the looming threat of terrorism in 1967 during the FLQ crises. I was not only horrified about leaving my cat but I was told we would be leaving our life behind — in 15 minutes time! Funny how certain pivotal events in our lives can remain in our consciousness for so long. I understood then that this was not the way to treat any living entity, people or animals. My life now, with the Free Farm Animal Home derives its roots from that one callous act. This painful memory is certainly not fuzzy for me.
To elaborate on my value system, my way of looking at the “animal problem” as some see it, if you see an abandoned cat and merely provide some kibble for that living creature, and do nothing more, you’ve hardly made a dent in the precarious world it is facing. In my mind, far too many people take the plunge, especially at Christmas time to adopt a cute little kitten for their young child, never giving a thought to the realistic possibility that the animal may need professional medical attention and a life time of commitment to nurture its well being and give it the kind of opportunity it truly deserves.
As such, unlike some other well-meaning animal caretakers, I am not one that believes in merely keeping silent about any medical condition of an animal and just content with passing it along in a quick adoption process, like a hot potato, out of sight, out of mind, no longer being bled financially as it is now someone else’s “problem.”
I have been the recipient of that route in my own personal life and know what sort of unfair challenges this behaviour leads to. To me, it’s just not right. But that’s only my “not normal” approach in my attempt to make a difference to the animals I have brought aboard on my self created Noah’s Ark. For many, this is pure lunacy, I realize, but this is me, the person I am.
I have more or less resigned myself to the reality that it will be a very hard thing to find a family to carry on in my footsteps of course.
Recently, I experienced a rather challenging, emotionally challenging situation. The vet clinic I was using harmed my cat. They more or less forced me to undertake a rather risky and expensive full dental extraction of a cat. They told me they would no longer continue to treat this cat unless I agreed. So I agreed. They botched the procedure and instead of telling me this, they tried to cover it up. First, they refused to allow me to see the teeth they pulled. I asked for x-rays but they talked me out of it. I was told by the owner of the clinic that all the teeth had been removed successfully, roots intact as well. No problems. Mind you, the owners of this busy clinic would not allow me to talk to the actual tooth puller on their staff. Furthermore, they put a lot of pressure on me to turn over the cat to their clinic to have it as a house cat. After I paid the hefty fee for their services mind you.
When the symptoms of the cat become once again exasperated, and it was clear the initial vets who were caring for this cat with promises that the physical pain would definitely be resolved with this procedure, I followed the advice of another vet clinic I hired and insisted on an x-ray and followed through with a visit to one of Canada’s leading cat dental specialist who found multiple roots had not been removed from the teeth that had been pulled, and older teeth that had fallen out ages ago leaving potential nerve damaging roots behind, even though the vets medical records stated in their own handwritten notes that ALL of the roots were successfully removed and , in a horrific, to me at least, a made up and self protecting report entry that the pet owner refused x-rays. Here was evil in its worst form. Lies.
It is the kind of situation in life, in reality in any medical environment, that comes up every now and then. There are obviously times when we absolutely need medical assistance to resolve suffering. But sometimes the engagement of veterinary medicine is like a marriage. You can’t live without it and you can’t live with it type of thing.
How am I dealing with this issue, a situation that surfaces when you have many animals to care for, now with a cat that I am told by the dental specialist can no longer have his roots removed because it would be too risky to operate again, even mere weeks after the partial dental extraction, because the original attending vet had overlooked a heart murmur?
Indeed, a tough situation to process and right now as noted earlier I continue to receive compassionate care of this animal through another vet.
Some pet owners might be tempted to litigate, especially with proof of falsifying medical records, covering up a botched procedure and basically less than competent care. But personally, being who I understand I am, my view is to walk away and spend my limited energy on addressing the needs of the animals themselves. Albert Schweitzer and Mahatma Gandhi are the role models in my eyes and taking their non-revengeful , non resistant approaches rule my day.
May this blog answer the questions of the readers who are curious.