Shad Supports the Charity Walkers

Despite the numerous horrors being witnessed across the world these days, there are plenty of awesome humans on this planet willing to put themselves through aches, cramps and blisters in the name of a good cause.  John’s son in law Scott along with a bunch of fresh eager souls are organising a sponsored walk along the shoreline from Bognor Regis to Brighton on 3rd June to raise money in support of people with cystic fibrosis.  People born with this debilitating condition have a build-up of sticky mucous in their lungs and digestive system which can lead to a whole bunch of problems including difficulty breathing, malnutrition, chest infections, diabetes and osteoporosis.  Although there is no cure, a range of treatments such as medications, staying active and airway clearance techniques can help control symptoms and reduce complications.

Just Giving – Walk for Susan

 

Scott and the rest of the gang have been practising walking to raise their fitness levels and eating healthily (most of the time anyway) in readiness for the big day.  Here they are playing around with balloons, banners and buckets all donated by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.  The Trust supports those who live with cystic fibrosis, conducting research and campaigning to raise awareness and funds in order to improve outcomes for many people including some that are or have been close to several individuals in our gregarious group of fundraisers.  The walk is over 30 miles from pier to pier and there are plenty of cafes and benches along the way for the walkers to stop and refuel.  I would offer to accompany them but I don’t like getting sweaty so I’ll sponsor them a few quid and send them off with a smile!  I hope the weather stays good and everyone remembers their bottle of water and packet of plasters!

Just Giving – Walk for Susan

Shad does the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare

“Hurry up” yelled John as I feverishly flicked my litter all over the room, “Its 9.30 already and the sun is shining so the world and his dog will be on the roads”.  He knows I need to go to the bathroom before a trip in the car so I glanced curtly in his direction before trotting to the hallway mirror to check my fur.  My whiskers needed a quick lick before springing proudly outwards and I was ready for our day out at the Raystede Centre in Ringmer (East Sussex).  The Centre started caring for animals 60 years ago and provides sanctuary to a whole host of creatures including goats, horses, turkeys, ducks, geese, tortoises and terrapins.

 

I was looking forward to seeing the donkeys because of their delightfully large ears and characteristic ‘eee-awe’ which can apparently be heard up to 2 miles away.  I have a lot of respect for donkeys who have been used as working animals by humans for thousands of years, often being abused and neglected while they carry heavy loads for people across the world.  Lizzy and Dolly are 18 and 12 years old respectively and were living in a field near Brighton when their owner died and they had no one left to care for them.  The keepers told me that donkeys are bright animals and take time to assess what they are being asked to do before agreeing to it which has unfairly led to them being labelled as stubborn.  They form strong bonds with their human and equine companions and (like horses) should be kept in pairs or herds, never alone.  They are not waterproof and need adequate shelter to protect them from the elements as well a visit from the farrier on a regular basis.

 

The alpacas live in the fields with the horses during the day and are cleverly left to roam the secured sanctuary at night to protect the birds and wildlife from foxes by braying as an alarm call, kicking and even spitting at any potential predators.   They looked rather hoity-toity and wouldn’t stay still for the camera so John and I moved swiftly on to the waterfowl haven.  We knew where it was before we got there due to the great cacophony of noise that was coming from the flocks of ducks and geese honking and quacking around the lake.  As we strolled along the footpath near the water’s edge, a greylag goose walked past that was taller than me.  For some reason John thought the sight of my behind swaying as I swaggered alongside a goose waddling was quite amusing.  The cheek!

 

There were no cats visible in the cat pens even though they were occupied and I expect the moggies were not in the mood to be gawped at.  You know how particular pussy-cats can be!  But I did see a picture of a fluffy black and white called Branson with a fetching beauty spot on his nose.  He was found abandoned in a suitcase outside a shop in Eastbourne, traumatised but thankfully unharmed.  With this kind of past, it’s no surprise that cats like Branson can be a bit shy, but given a bit of time and space they blossom into little cherubs.  Unlike this little tyke in the picture, a hyperactive white terrier type schnauzer-cross called Edwina who needs a home with experienced owners to manage her high-energy outlook on life.  Bruno the chocolate Labrador was a handsome boy and much more laid back than the crazy yapper.

 

We continued around the Centre and came across the rabbit run which included a rather creative demonstration of what a garden for a rabbit should look like.  Next to each other were 2 plots.  One was a boring bare patch of grass with a small hutch at the end where a sad rabbit might live.  The other was called Home Sweet Home and was an interesting space filled with grass and earth, shrubs and leafy plants, bits of wood and a decent sized hutch

http://www.raystede.org/

Shad talks about his buddy

One day, a friendly young kitten was found wandering the streets of Thessaloniki in Greece.  The lady who found this kitten with no name took pity on him because he had no one to care for him and he had suffered an injury.  Despite dragging a lifeless paw around with him, his happy go-lucky nature shone through and he was taken to a shelter to be fostered.  The volunteers at the shelter did all they could to help him, along with the many other kittens and cats they rescue.  He was named Pasas, fed and watered, played with and cuddled, kept free of fleas and parasites, safe and warm.  But they did not have the resources to treat his injured paw which remained limp by his side.

 

As the weeks turned into months, the plight of this plucky little chap was captured by the Greek Cat Welfare Society, a UK charity which has been working in Greece and the Greek Islands for the last 22 years, neutering colonies of stray cats and educating and supporting local people to have their pets (both cats and doggies) de-sexed.  Despite the lack of food and care and sadly some cat-hating people who poison them and dispose of them cruelly, there are still many thousands of unwanted cats roaming the streets in Greece thanks to our phenomenal potential to breed.

 

Anyway, to continue the story, a photo of Pasas the Greek boy with the floppy paw was printed in the Greek Cat Welfare Society’s newsletter and caught the eye of an English lady with a love for the feline variety.  She offered him a home and so began the next phase of his journey through life.  He had to be micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies in order to receive his pet passport, before he was put on a flight to Paris and then driven from Paris all the way to the Sussex coast.  This was all generously paid for by the Greek Cat Welfare Society.

 

Young Pasas was renamed Zoukia and spent the first couple of weeks in his new home hiding in the cupboard or behind the bed, staring wide-eyed whenever his new owner looked at him.  It must have been scary and stressful to endure the 10 hour journey in a cat box with all those strange noises of the plane and the cars before being taken to a totally different place that smelled and looked unfamiliar and was already occupied by 4 other English rescue cats who didn’t even speak the same language!  But Zoukia is a resilient boy with an instinct to survive and coped admirably with the challenges he faced.  His new owner quickly whipped him off to the vets to get that droopy paw sorted out, especially as he had now developed an ulcer on it where it was always rubbing against the floor.  He was diagnosed with a brachial plexus paralysis (damage to a nerve resulting in a limp paw with no feeling) probably caused by a car accident and the vet recommended amputation.

 

Now you would think that this poor creature, having had such a bad start in life, would end up a shy nervous little sausage barely able to hobble his way to the food bowl for a bit of bread and dripping.  But I can assure you from personal experience of being swiped at by this cheeky little monster on several occasions, he is strong-willed and adventurous and he rules the roost.  He enjoys life and seems oblivious to the fact that he has a paw missing.  May be he wouldn’t fall off fences and stumble out of trees so much if he remembered, but this happy go-lucky cat lives life to the full, and even though he occasionally loses his balance, it doesn’t stop him leaping into the air to catch a moth or hurtling down the garden at top speed after one of the other cats.  What an enormous change from the streets of Thessaloniki city where he grew up.

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Shad shoots a charity gig

As you know, John and I have a strong affinity for nature and we support animal welfare charities in as many ways as we can, but this time it was the animal supporting a human cause in my role as official photographer for the Saga Louts.  Please note that although I have just referred to myself as an animal, it’s on the understanding that I meant it in the most sophisticated sense!  Regular readers will be familiar with the Saga Louts, a motley crew of middle-aged crooners who love music and happily give their time to worthy causes like the Ocean Youth Trust South (OYTS).

 

The OYTS works in partnership with other organisations like youth clubs, schools and social work teams to identify young people, many of whom will be disadvantaged or vulnerable in some way, and offer them a unique opportunity for personal growth.  It involves being part of a crew that sails a 72-foot long yacht across the seas for a few days and extends a long-term programme of work to participants, ensuring lessons are learned and achievements are celebrated.  The youngsters (aged between 12 and 25 years) include children who have been bullied or bereaved, young carers, victims of crime, those with family situations affected by substance abuse, or those who simply wish to broaden their experience and face new challenges.

 

I’m no expert but I have eyes and I see a desperate need in many young people these days to learn essential life skills such as cooking, confidence, coping with unfamiliar situations, learning to communicate with others and dealing with conflict so that they can lead a more healthy and constructive existence.  I can only imagine the joy and the trials faced by the staff and volunteers who organise and facilitate these adventures so hat’s off to them for making a difference to all those children’s lives.

 

 

The venue was the Fareham Sailing and Motorboat Club at the back of Portsmouth Harbour looking out on to the Solent.  The Club’s history dates back to the 1800’s when ladies and gentlemen took to the water in leisure sailing craft and rowing boats.  These days the clubhouse has space for cruising yachts and motor boats, and room in the workshop for a band and a bunch of enthusiastic ladies doing their version of a handbag-shuffle!  It was great to see these lovely ladies shimmy the night away while the Creekers played folk music and shanty songs in their top-hats and waist-coats.  They were followed by the Saga Louts playing their crazy mix of punk, rock and 80’s dance.  The gig was held as part of an Ocean Youth Trust South campaign to raise funds to buy a new boat so they can continue the remarkable and life-changing work they do.  Sounds like a great excuse to get stuck into the BBQ.  Get your wallet out John, I’m buying burgers to raise money for a good cause.  Well the photographer needs to keep his strength up you know!

Shad and his mates

Here are some pictures of two very cute kittens that are currently residing in one of the Cat Protection’s pens in West Sussex.  Some of you may know that John takes photos of the cats for his friend who is a fosterer.  These two poppets came into care from a lady who had lots of cats that were breeding willy-nilly and had never received any veterinary treatment.  Unfortunately this type of situation has a terrible impact on the lives of the cats and the litters born to the females in the household, so these two cuties arrived in the pen with fleas, anaemia, cat flu and conjunctivitis.  Apparently many humans think cats that are related don’t mate but this is not true.  Nature has taught us cats not to be too fussy and it only takes an un-neutered male and female a few seconds alone to make the babies!  You’ll be pleased to hear that Teddy and Tinks are now flea-free, infection-free and feeling much healthier and happier.

 

The pretty black and white girl is a 2 year old domestic short hair called Jasmine who was surrendered by her owner because she was unhappy and refusing to come indoors, probably due to the noise levels in the house and the unruly children that were causing her stress.  She is friendly, gentle and playful, although a bit shy until she gets to know you.  She has a potential new owner coming to visit her next weekend so let’s hope she is lucky enough to find her forever home soon.

 

While John and I were in the garden, my mate Ginger came along to check out my photography equipment.  It was good to see my old buddy Ginge and he was very curious about my cameras.  So I started telling him about the importance of using light as a medium and how I store my digital image files, but he cheeky rascal fell asleep on my bag.

 

I also caught up with my good pal Muffin, the haughty black 5 year old who kept looking through my new binoculars last time I came to visit.  Muffin told me some bad news about my old chum Monty, a blue British Short Hair who was in the pen last year for about 10 weeks.  He was difficult to re-home because he has irritable bowel syndrome and can poop for England!  Fortunately, a nice lady saw past his dodgy tummy and fell for his charming and debonair personality.  Poor Monty was hit by a car a week ago and suffered some serious injuries.  To make matters worse, his owner who loves him very much did not have him insured.  Surgery, stitches, bandages, pain-killers, antibiotics and £2,600 later, he is now home but still not out of the woods.  His recovery will be slow and uncomfortable and his dedicated owner is caring for him while he is on cage-rest as well as working extra hours and taking in foreign students to pay off her credit card bills.  I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Monty every bit of luck and I hope he pulls through.