Category Archives: animal rescue

Home is where the Heartspace is – –

Jack gets a guest post on a Saturday – what next?

Wendy and I have ended up in lots of great places so she could get some peace for writing. We thought Fayetteville in West Virginia was the best, when she was offered three months as Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette Flats. That was a lovely time, but the best was yet to come!

blue house

When we moved to Wytheville from Big Stone Gap, we couldn’t have imagined that among our first new friends would be Randy and Lisa who own Oracle Books down on Main Street. During our first year here we’ve helped them run events at the store and they’ve introduced us to many new friends, as well as supplying us with wonderful eggs from the farm where they live. Lisa raises goats for their fleece and I do believe the ladies have done some trades the hubbies are not privy to, as well.

But here’s the rub – Wendy found herself suddenly hit with two book deadlines. Her contracted book is due to McFarland Press in mid-February. Wendy’s been working almost non-stop at editing this volume, tentatively titled High Hopes: Appalachian prescribers and therapists take on the substance abuse crisis. It has some fifteen or so contributors, and all I know is my darling comes around the corner in our house from time to time, tears streaming down her face, or laughing, and says, “Listen to this.”

The second deadline is not specific, but Wendy feels driven. For years she wanted to publish a book about our cat rescue work, but her agent (a wonderful woman we both respect) didn’t feel it would work. Out of the blue, the editor Wendy works with at McFarland messaged to ask, hadn’t Wendy been working on a cat book at some point? Could she see that when Wendy had a chance?

It can be hard to concentrate at home sometimes—chores, cats and (dare I say) the husband can call my wife’s focus away. Randy’s sister Linda came to the rescue with the offer of her gorgeous 1900 house tucked off the beaten track. It doesn’t have cell-phone coverage but does have internet – perfect. So a bookstore is helping an author to get a couple of books published.

My job is to keep the wood stove going (oh bliss), walk Bruce our dog, and run out for provisions when necessary. In other words it is to guard Wendy’s head space so she can do what she does best – write. That’s what I guess all marriages are about, in a larger sense: guarding each other’s heads, if not hearts as well. You support each other. It’s always a negotiation as she supports my musical stuff and I do my best to support her writing. On the other hand, she’s also musical, becoming among other things a very good harp player, and I am writing a blog post at this moment. So perhaps as much as guarding each other’s space, it is making space for each other in our own?

 

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing

Jack’s Guest Blog has a Guest

Young Striped Skunk in roadside ditchYo. Have I got a story for you!

Me and the fam, we moved into a really nice brush pile not too far from the kits’ school. My little surfeit was all excited for their own rooms in the brush, and the wife (Mabel) really liked this area.

So about two weeks in, the kits have started school and Mabel’s made friends in the stump nearby and it’s all going swimmingly. Then I go out exploring.

This great brute of a thing, this dog that must have been fifty times my body size, he comes from nowhere, and he rolls me over with his paw, and I’m not a naturally violent guy, but I’ve got no choice.

I give him a full blast in the face.

The best defense is a good offense, I teach the kits. Poor little orphan surfeit – at this point I thought I’d never see them or Mabel again. But this dog, all of a sudden, he wants to play! I’m trying to stand up, but my leg hurts, and the beast is just circling me, barking and jumping like a puppy. Like he thinks I’m a cat or something and wants to be friends.

A human lady comes out of the house, throws her hands up, and goes back inside. I’m lying there sprawled in the yard, and I figure the dog’s not gonna hurt me at this point, and the lady’s gonna get a photo, so just wait. If she puts the photo on Facebook I can use it later in the insurance settlement. I’m suing the ears off this doggo, believe you me. “Unprovoked” comes to mind. There are fair warning laws between species, y’know?

But the lady comes back with a guy and they drag the dog to their porch. So I waddle home. I can walk on that leg, but think to to limp a little, just in case they can see me. From the porch I can hear the lady all annoyed-like saying “baking soda” and “Monday morning.”

Yeah, whatever, lady. I’ll see you my wafting scent and raise you one heart attack.

Mabel’s still there when I get home; the kits haven’t left for school, so they all cluster ’round while she gets the lineament. They want to hear the whole story, but their little eyes get so big when I talk about the teeth and jaws closing around me (hey, why not) Mabel interrupts.

“Daddy’s fine, surfeit. Off you go now; you’ll be late for school.” And despite the chorus of “Aw Ma”s and such, they grab their lunches and go grumbling out the door. She Who Must Be Obeyed has spoken.

Mabel brings me a drink. (Don’t judge. It was for my nerves.) And I tell her the whole story–the sudden rush, the rollover, the dog turning friendly a little late in the encounter for my tastes–while she checks my leg.

“Not broke, just sprained. Stay off it today and tomorrow you’ll be right as rain” is her pronouncement. “Did we make a mistake moving here? Can the kits play in the yard?”

I mean, we just got here, and we might have to move ’cause of that beast? Now I’m not gonna suggest to their mother that we take any chances with our little surfeit, no way nohow. All the same, that dog wasn’t out for blood. He kinda wanted to play. And I did teach him not to mess with skunks. Direct hit between the eyes. He’s gonna reek for days. Ain’t enough Dawn liquid soap in the world to make him forget this little lesson.

So maybe we can wait it out. Gonna restrict the kits to playing on the South side of the brush pile for a few days, and I’ll forage in another area. The people in the house won’t be interested in a repeat performance either, so they’ll be turning the outside lights on before the dog appears, I feel sure. That’s all we ask, fair warning.

And maybe, just maybe, we can all get along? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m gonna enjoy my day off. Mabel just brought me some eggs and bacon – and another drink.Bruce2

 

 

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Filed under animal rescue, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

When All is Said and Done

Bruce2

When the Michael Vick controversy heated up, I listened to the claims of racism and laughed. We’d always been here, we animal rescuers. We yelled about Amish people and horses for slaughter and Michael Vick with equal ferocity. Don’t try that racist card on us, I thought.

I still think that’s true, but with caveats. When I joined a group working on boycotting the companies sponsoring Vick for NFL honors and endorsing him, well, suddenly there were a bunch of people there I didn’t recognize. People using slurs and suggesting punishments containing racial overtones.

The moderator of the group held the line; he threw off people who referred to Vick’s skin color as part of his crimes. In every sense of those words. And he banned people who referenced political parties or the protests where black athletes knelt during the national anthem. The moderator worked hard to remind us we were there for the dogs.

Still, in the end I had to leave that group. Vick deserves no honors – and don’t tell me America won’t forgive a black man. Forgiveness is between Vick and God. HONORS is between the NFL and all the people who will boycott them because he is being honored. Vick also deserves no racial ugliness, and it is disappointing that the two have gotten mixed up.

Because when the freeloaders and the users and the fast-action racists have gone, we animal rights activists will still be here, fighting for those who cannot speak for themselves. I’m sorry it seems racial. For those of us who were here before Vick and will be here after him, it isn’t.

And then there are people saying that if we care about X but not Y, we’re doing it wrong. Two white evangelical males asked why I didn’t invest this amount of energy into fighting abortion. Because God made me an animal lover, so that’s what I do.

Animal activists get this a lot. A friend gave me $3000 to save the life of a kitten with a corrective surgery. I thanked her on Facebook. And suddenly I was on a list of people being hit up for donations for kids with cancer, and told that if I cared more about cats than children, I was a bad woman. Not a bad person. A bad woman.

Nice try. Outrage belongs to those who hold it. Maybe some of us rescue animals because we think the human race is doomed. Maybe because we feel innocence from animals we don’t from people. Or maybe because that’s our decision. It doesn’t matter, in this divided America.

I am sorry, sorry, sorry, that friends with black skin could interpret our decisions on fighting animal abuse as racist. That evangelical white friends might see it as putting animal life above humans.

When all is said and done, I help the animals because that’s where my strengths are, this is how God made me, and they deserve it.

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Filed under animal rescue, Life reflections, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Kira Gives her Point of View

kiraRight, my name is Kira, and I own a house in Wytheville. Some other cats and humans and one big dog live there, too. It’s like foster care or something. So here’s what happened.

I’m sitting there in the sunbeam minding my own business, just finishing up a spit bath, and WHAM without so much as a by-your-leave I am hoisted into the air and carried to a carrier.

I do not like carriers. They usually end in a journey someplace where you get poked and prodded and maybe lose a couple of parts. Not that I begrudge the parts. Never wanted kids.

So I start vocalizing my opinions on this piece of skullduggery but I am carried IN SUBZERO TEMPERATURES  *editor’s note: it was 42 degrees* out to a car, and I think yeah, here we go. And go we did. We went, and went, and went. It coulda been days. *editor’s note: it was three hours*

Finally, the car stops, and my people and the dog get out, again there’s a freezing trip through the air, and inside this overwarm house there’s this nice lady and this guy.  The lady wants to make a fuss, but I’ve had enough of not knowing what’s going on and I bolt for the nearest closet.

It’s a nice closet. Fuzzy sweaters hanging up and one conveniently knockable to the floor. Whadaya know ’bout that? (I don’t know nothin’, see. It was there when I get there, I says.)

A few hours of sleep, some restorative wet lunch (I think that was the lady’s way of apologizing) and I’m right as rain. Ready for some of that loving the lady wants to send my way. She’s got a nice lap. My human lady keeps calling this lady “Mom” so I figure I better be on my good behavior. A little eye batting, a little purring… yep, worked like a charm.

From this vantage point I can eavesdrop on their conversation. Turns out, this whole trip is for the dog. THE DOG??!! He has to have knee surgery. Old football injury or something. All this inconvenience to me, for the sake of the house canine? He isn’t even on payroll, just an accessory. Sheesh.

Well, there’s gonna be extra wet supper, I can tell you. I did tell my human, vocally, several times. She got the hint.

That night I snooze with the guy and the lady from the house, and next morning my human slides the door open to let the precious invalid dog out, and I take my shot. I like outdoors, visit it pretty regular back home, so it’s not like I’m stupid and not gonna come back. I know which side my foodbowl sits upright on.

So like I said, out I goes and—

–what the hell? Is this the Apocalypse?? WHAT IS THIS STUFF???!!!

I kid you not, fellas, the ground was covered with this cold white dead ash. I guess somebody finally sent the bomb up? Is this gonna affect my food supply? Back in I go, everything normal in there (well, at least as normal can be when a family prioritizes the dog) and I warn them. I warn them loudly and well. Truly, I tell them the end of the world is upon us and they need to go the store RIGHT NOW and buy ALL the tuna. QUICK.

And my human, she LAUGHS at me. “SNOW” she calls it. “It’s just snow, pussytuddums,” she says, all prissy sweet. I HATE it when she calls me… that name.

Anyway, I milked it. Got second breakfast out of the whole deal. kira 2

So that’s my story, and you can see it was an easy mistake to make. Never seen the stuff before, y’know? How was I supposed to know?

But they did buy me tuna. So it’s all good.

 

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Another Tale of Tails – – –

Jack makes it over the line – woohoo – – –

I never had a dog or a cat when I was a kid. There was my Grandad’s budgie but that hardly counts!

Fast forward and my marriage to Wendy. Before we even wed, she required a cat and a visit to the Leith cat and dog home resulted in Valkyttie who was with us for seventeen years. Shortly after tiny Valkittie arrived we had another visit to Leith and Rabbie, our border terrier joined the family.

They were with us in Scotland, England and the US and when Rabbie mysteriously disappeared along came Zora the black lab and Bert – mini Rabbie look-alike!

Zora and Bert reached their allotted span and left us a year apart not long before we moved house here to Wytheville. As usual when pets depart there’s a period of mourning and time needed before the time is right to adopt again.

But the time was right a couple of months ago – –

Enter Bruce!

Bruce2

It was time and Wendy found him at a local rescue. Described as a four-year-old bulldog/pitbull mix we fairly quickly found he was mainly pitbull and definitely older. There’s a good reason for that, though and we completely understand. Pitbulls have a bad rap and dogs over five are harder to find homes for. We were told he was being treated for heart-worm and were happy to take that on-board.

Bruce was afraid of everything when he arrived. When his water in jug gurgled, he ran away. When a cat approached, he ran away. He once ran from his own tail when he caught its movement from the corner of his eye.

We quickly surmised that he had had a chequered and probably unhappy past, being so nervous of people, vehicles and unfamiliar noises. But he equally quickly settled down with us and proved to be very relaxed and happy to spend most of his time hanging close by.

We recently noticed he was limping and an x-ray revealed a torn ligament -which explained some of his past; he was obviously a linebacker in high school – so that will be the next priority. While he was being checked for that and getting the last heart-worm shots our vet (the sainted Beth) estimated his age at closer to seven years, which seems about right.

So we are looking forward to giving him a better life in retirement than he seems to have had up to now. His golden years will be golden.

Why Bruce? Well all our male dogs have been some version of Robert; we had a Rabbie and a Bert, so Robert the Bruce seemed right. Besides his previous name, apparently, was Brutus and Bruce with a Scottish accent sounds much the same. He seems to like it!

And we like him just fine. So that’s all right then.

 

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Filed under animal rescue, between books, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Another Day – Another – – –

Wendy is tied up preparing for her big annual medical conference, so Jack gets an extra turn –

I thought a description of a typical day in the Beck/Welch house might amuse y’all –

Wendy feeds the cats and the dog, including one cat recovering from surgery and another that intimidates all the rest. We have a discussion about how to handle the intimidatory one and decide she has to live outside and in our log cabin jail out back (the cat – not Wendy). That meant checking on possible heating and cat flap arrangements.

Then it was bringing all our instruments in from the car after our gig at the local bookstore last night.

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On with the first of three loads of washing in between cracking walnuts. (We don’t use a dryer so sunny days are prime time for laundry.) Five mature black walnut trees came with this house and while Wendy does the collecting and hulling, I do the cracking and meat extraction.

Wendy leaves for work – –

Our friend Randy who runs the aforementioned bookstore comes over to look at three of our walnut trees which will shortly be felled and agrees to take some of the wood.

I crack more walnuts, put on the second wash and start the dishwasher.

Time for my customary soft boiled egg for lunch and then a break for a smoke in the front porch (aka ‘the catio’). As I’m relaxing I hear an explosive BANG!  At the crossing just down from our house I see a white pick-up careening over the cross street on its side with smoke pouring out while a black SUV shudders to a halt behind it. The truck rights itself and stops off the street. Silence – then raised voices while the SUV driver starts picking up various pieces of his vehicle. After ten minutes the fire engine, ambulance and various police cars arrive. I wander down and see the ambulance folk walking two women from the truck into the ambulance. Another ten minutes and everything’s cleared and gone. Small town America – – –

I crack more walnuts.

Wendy gets home, empties the dishwasher and worries that the recovering cat may have leaked cat pee on a blanket. (I have no sense of smell). We do one unexpected load of laundry for the cats, because recovering kitty needs her blankie tonight.

I crack more walnuts.

The mailman arrives and we exchange pleasantries – he has brought a forwarded bank statement for the Big Stone Celtic festival. So I know what I’ll be doing this evening after we go out for supper.

More walnuts – – – –

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Filed under animal rescue, between books, Big Stone Gap, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

A Tale of Tails

Jack fails to make the deadline yet again – tsk, tsk!

Cats are weird!

We currently have five of them and most are FELV positive (which means that they could either live a long normal life – or not).

tooth and Bruce

Tooth arrived over our backyard fence when we were away in Scotland a few years ago. Named because she was a feral kitten that looked like a smaller version of another feral cat we fostered and named Fang, Tooth became the friendliest cat imaginable. She took on the job of looking after our aging lab Zora and then, after Zora died, she took on the same role with our terrier Bert.

After Bert passed poor Tooth hasn’t had much to do, so she was delighted when we got our new dog, Bruce. Luckily big bulldog Bruce is very used to cats and lets them all play around him perfectly happily.

Bruce is undergoing treatment for heart-worm and probably gives off some kind of ‘sickly’ vibes, because Tooth has gone back into full nursing mode. When he started limping on Sunday Tooth would have fetched a crutch!

As for the others –

Kira likes to intimidate everyone and everything. But she loves a shoulder scratch from me!

Molly likes to stay away from Kira – mostly either on top of cupboards or outside for a week.

Hannah is everyone’s buddy and isn’t afraid of Kira.

Lorelei is the newbie – just arrived and getting the lie of the land. Particularly ‘cute’!

Bruce just ignores it all – – –

 

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Filed under animal rescue, between books, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch