It’s incredible: ten years on from our Kizzy dying, leaving Teg on her own for the first time, has taken us to start meeting strangers who are now firm friends, to us dipping our toe into the rescue world and now we are in it up to our necks! We moved house for the dogs, spent all our savings on them, and spend 24/7 caring, sharing, loving and toiling for them. Would we have it any other way now? No, absolutely not. Thanks to the latter half of this time especially, and with the outreach of the Internet and social media, our events have grown and the following from so many of you has given us stability in our needs. No Twilight Pudding goes without or wants for anything, except perhaps a less-mad pair of human parents!
But, no denying, it is hard work. The needs of the old and disabled have not got any less in this ten-year period. Humans still die leaving bereft canine oldies, and whilst education and traditions are changing, people still refuse to sterilise their little ones leaving so many unnecessary births, and indeed, later in life, hormonal rotting and cancer issues for the oldies. Still, there are the humans who have no feelings and can just dump, swap, or leave their supposed friends to fend for themselves on the roadside. The list can, of course, go on. But, the good has got to be winning. The SPAs (in the main) are improving, refuges are brighter, cleaner, more caring places to be. Kill policies are not so drastic. Volunteers are incredible on so many levels. Really, for all the hard and tiring times and many grim stories, it has to be a better place, with more chances, if you are a canine with no home to call your own … yet!
How does little old Twilight cope? We go through phases: long waiting lists, shorter lists, consecutive Pudding deaths, long stayers, the shortest stop overs. Just Mike and I, that hasn’t changed. What has changed is how you have helped us develop to be more comfortable with 30-odd dogs living under the same roof as us, our home. By making life easier we have been able to sustain the 24/7 care. The volunteers are not huge in number, but boy do they pull out all the stops for events, and they help out at home when they can, despite many living several hours’ drive away. Remarkable, each and every one. We couldn’t do what we do without them, without you and your support.
But what now, 10 years on? Well, of course, we will party for our birthday in August! Mike is 71, and I am 52 (nearly!). Neither of us have sexy health, and Mike certainly has impending hospital stays ahead this year. But health is day by day, and age is but a number. Long chats … and Twilight, with our old and disabled Puddings, now defines us. We cannot see ourselves doing anything else. We feel blessed. But, yes, there has to be a breaking point. We need to make a few adjustments, perhaps make a few things clear, monitor ourselves so we can sustain Twilight life. This will evolve, just as the last ten years have, really. I can though reassure you we will do our best.
Twelve days ago we did something we have never done before. We cancelled a dog coming in, with less than 24 hours’ notice. It was almost as much a shock to us as it probably was to the organisation we were taking the dog from, and colleagues involved. But we broke. We were both so poorly, pained and just plain at tether end. It was sad, although interestingly the dog was placed elsewhere, which was a personal relief, but did prove we were not in this case the last hope hotel. It taught me to listen to my instincts, which are normally pretty good, and know when I am just at my limit. A bit of a ‘stop before it hurts’ situation! So, no harm done, but lesson very deeply learnt.
Looking ahead, which is always a good thing to do when you are pooped and it won’t stop raining and the mud is endless … and so much poo! Why do they poo more in the winter? No real changes, just a bit of tidying up where possible. We are going to try to keep to 25 Puddings at Chez Twilight, with around 12 on our outreach programme as appropriate. Oldies would ideally be 12 plus, but each Pud is considered on its own merit, so an old or sensitive 10 would be considered. Disabled would be according to our physical abilities now. A 40 kilo, rear-leg paraplegic who needs harness lifting is going to test us now. Age is not relevant.
It is our tenth year and so we are going to do a little something for us, just in Leeanne and Michael fashion, our way of celebrating. No, not holidaying to a love island, we live in our own love island now. We will have a little surprise joining us … soon to be revealed! The list will consist of only four Puds at any one time. This is to keep it current and realistic. We ask individuals and organisations alike to email us with their request, short history and a photo. This helps me process them. We will then accept on the list, suggest you contact us again in a few months, or sadly say no. Yep, the worst bit of what we do. Remember, if you don’t ask … I am not a mind reader, and I don’t go looking! The list is not ordered, as timing is based on size, sex, the problem, who else is in, needs, etc. We are not experts by any means, but we now have gathered a bit of experience, so we generally know what is going to work for this special large home pack and a comfy way of living for us all. We make no charge to come, every Pudding comes from so many situations, we just take the Pudding and worry on the funds later; it hasn’t let us down so far.
Volunteers I touched on briefly earlier. Goodness, what an amazing bunch we are so so lucky to have help us. But, we need more if we are to hang on in. Help cleaning, especially in the winter. We will need to spruce ourselves up a bit this spring time … wood needs treating, walls need painting, tiles need re-grouting, or we need to raise funds to employ the help. But we know we cannot physically do it all ourselves anymore. Leeanne and Michael time. Now this is where the charity and home life can over merge a whizzle when you are tired. You need the help, but you just fancy a duvet day or slobbing in your pjs! This just means I am going to be a firm woman on the diary front. We need slushy sloppy days, and the Puds love them, too, so going to buy a closed sign! We have put this off, but now we just need to find this fine line and work to it!
So, all that remains are the plans for the celebrations. The celebration of over 300 Puds so far, living life to the very end, not being alone, dying with dignity and with a heart full of love. This is your celebration, so we hope you will join us in the various ways. Open days, FB events, competitions, dinners, fetes, vides, doggy fun days, music — whatever tickles your paws. You have made Twilight Family. Many folks have been inspired to take an oldie into their home, and we hope this trend will grow more and more. We are all, if we are lucky enough, going to grow old. I hope, when my time comes, someone will care enough so that I am not alone, cold or hungry, in pain and feeling unloved. Let’s make the world a better place, let us cherish the end of days, let us ‘be’ for each other.