What! A terrapin!?
Christmas is expected to be the happiest time of the year. People just seem kinder, more willing to make eye contact, and to smile and wish you well. However, on the contrary, December can be a difficult month for people working at animal shelters. People go on vacation without making safe arrangements for their pets. Others get a playful new pup or kitten, and the old pet looks perhaps a little uninteresting now. This can potentially result in a wave of new animals at our safe haven. To add to this, in Zimbabwe, the majority of the population has been wiped out financially, thanks to Covid-19 fall-out, and the status quo here. There is no furlough or assistance given to people here. It’s a very hard time all round, as 3rd world Africa abides by 1st world advice, but is unable to provide 1st World support. Covid regulations have squashed our resolutions for community programs, but we are looking forward to launching them as soon as we are able. I know this is important to some of you, as it is to us, and we will get going as soon as we are allowed.
Here in Mutare, too many of the animals we rescue have had their very souls crushed.
To recover, they have much to learn: To gain courage. To trust. To believe. To accept love, and finally, to love. We begin by letting them watch us at play with our longer-term residents from their kennel. Initially, they may hide, or try to sleep their fear away. After a few days, they spend time at the gate, watching the antics of the pack. If they are aggressive, they have to come out alone, when the pack is indoors. But if their behaviour shows confidence, they tend to be satellites to the group for a while. Eventually, they lean in for a sniff or nudge, till finally, they are ready for us to touch or stroke or lean on them. Then we know we have made it, and the restoring of their souls begins. It may seem like we have a hard or unenviable role, but in truth, we are blessed to be able to experience this alongside our animals. It’s often a slow process to get them to the point when they are ready for homing, and we cannot expect them to make the necessary growth in a predictable time frame. I firmly believe their time period to heal should not be set in stone. Having a resource like GlobalGiving, to give us the direction and financial safety net we need through their forum, gives us the confidence that we can survive. And we do. Homes are few, but regular, and shortly we will try more Instagram usage, to add to our facebook posts. FB: @SPCA-MUTARE
Rescues abound, but not just on mammals. We rescued a little fledgling bird, a White-eye, and it was raised by local fundis, Rob and Barry Truscott. Followed by a good member of the public bringing us a Tortoise. The staff had set the “big tortoise” to range free in our quarantine section, and from then on he was difficult to locate, so I did not get to see him. Just before we left for our family Christmas, he was found and put in a grass cushioned box to await his forced migration from easy street back to nature. It is important to us to relocate wild animals for the best end result, so we decided that a sanctuary with space and other tortoises of both sexes was the way to go. The trip went well, with this unidentifiable animal (presumably a rare species?) buried deep in the soft grasses. When we arrived in Harare, we removed him to let him stretch his legs in a safe courtyard. Legs pumping for a quick escape, we found he looked most uncommon. Black skin, with a fairly smooth shell had us wondering if he was perhaps a Terrapin. I put him at the pond edge, where he dived into the water, and swiftly swam to the far side. Not a Tortoise at all! The re-home was now complicated. Luckily our nephew was there, on a break from the remote and magical Malilangwe Reserve, and he took the terrapin off to a place that was suited to his species. Being pragmatic, life will be tougher for him, but he will get a chance at a normal existence. To range free, reproduce and have loads to do with his time will be what he deserves.
We also have homed the dearest dogs, Harry and Sally, to a plot in Chimanimani, where we homed Petal Pig. The drive there was very beautiful, from tawny bushveld near Mutare to the blue mountains of the rural village of Chims. We were very aware that this was not a conventional home, but they had a wooden cabin with a good sized fenced area for the cool mountain nights. We took the two dogs for some happy walks and we were very proud of their courage and ability to get back to base. At the plot, we wandered through the knee-high gold grass fields to a crystal clear and feisty stream below the livestock corral, where the dogs and Lynne waded in the chilly water. It was hard to say goodbye to these two affectionate rescues, but such good ambassadors they were that 2 more dogs have been adopted in Chimanimani, Ricky and Curly. We just have the best animals!! On their first night in their new home, they foiled a burglary, when they barked relentlessly till the lodge manager came out to check on them. Much of the haul was recovered, except the small refrigerator. The following morning, a young herd boy espied a “coffin” draped in a cloth. He ran home in terror. His mother immediately sent him back to unveil the scary box. THE FRIDGE! So that was recovered too.
We homed a friendly and loving dog called Lily too. At some stage in her life, she had been caught in a wire snare. Her struggle to free herself must have been fierce, as she not only sliced a deep wound around her whole neck, but double twisted a flap of skin which now flaps loose on her neck. How she survived I do not know, and yet she is as affectionate a dog as we have ever had. Lily arrived with 2 well taught pups who are as delightful as their mum, and one has a home, but not the other sadly. We have 4 puppies from different litters too who are going to make fine pets, and I have added a pic of Shadow, a character is ever there was one.
We have had extreme rains this December, which is wonderful for our farmers, but not for our sanctuary. The blankets get damp and are hard to dry, the animals feel cold, we feel cold, and it’s miserable. Well, not really…. The dogs are always delighted to see us, and eager for cuddles. The kittens rush the gate like a wall to wall shaggy pile carpet. Then it’s a love fest. A warm and contagious and rewarding love fest! So, THANK YOU GlobalGiving for giving us wings, and your generous community who has supported us. You have been an integral part of providing us with these special moments. From Jane and Lynne SPCA Mutare/Survival of Animal Welfare Charity in Zimbabwe
The amazing staff. Shadow arrived like a A new dog watches the
skeleton, looking for pack and joins the fun
a new home. later.